The Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s investigations into the alleged plot to kill a city-based film producer-director have revealed that the accused had also been instructed to open fire outside the Juhu residence of producer Karim Morani for a second time.
From November 15 to 17, the crime branch arrested 13 people allegedly paid by a wanted fugitive. While 10 of them were allegedly part of the planning and execution of the murder of the producer-director, his brother or his son outside his office in Khar, three of the 10 accused, as well as three others, were allegedly found to be behind the firing outside Morani’s Juhu bungalow in August.
“The arrested accused revealed during interrogation that their paymaster had told them to fire shots outside Morani’s house after killing the producer-director to ‘reinforce the impact’. The order given to them was to kill the producer-director as the firing outside Morani’s residence did not have any effect, and then to repeat the firing to drive the message home,” said a crime branch officer.
On Tuesday, the crime branch recovered another country-made pistol and five live rounds from accused Sufian Dilshaad and Faiz Naeem, who had allegedly buried the arsenal in a garden in Nalasopara.
“The accused had obtained six pistols and several rounds of ammunition from a firearms dealer based in Madhya Pradesh for Rs 80,000.
This weapons’ racket seems to be highly organised. The dealer had even sent a replacement for one of the guns, which had turned out to be faulty. We are on the trail of this arms dealer,” the officer said.
Inquiries have also revealed that the entire plan began with arrested accused Ishrat Sheikh (41) approaching Mohammed Anees Merchant (35), who was held in July.
Sheikh reportedly told his interrogators that due to severe poverty, besides the responsibility to raise four daughters, he approached Merchant, seeking employment. Sheikh has allegedly been involved with underworld activities since 1995. He had been arrested by the Lucknow Special Task Force along with Merchant in 2007 for allegedly transporting weapons, which were to be used to attack actor and singer Himesh Reshammiya at the behest of gangster Ejaz Lakdawala, the police said.
“Sheikh and Merchant put together a team of young unemployed men as all of the fugitive’s old associates are at present lodged in jail.
Sheikh was present when shots were fired outside Morani’s residence and had come to the producer-director’s Khar office to personally carry out the hit job after the others failed to complete it even after two months,” the officer said.